An Open Letter to Rep. Craig Horn – Someone Plagiarized Your “Incontrovertible Truths”

I read with great interest a guest column in the October 22nd Winston-Salem Journal entitled “What McCrory has done for North Carolina.” You may read it here –

If you can not find  it there, then you may find it here – maurice-atwood_-what-mccrory-has-done-for-north-carolina-winston-salem-journal_-columnists

Ironically, while it was attributed to another writer, it actually was plagiarized from one of your postings on your personal website, specifically a “Stop the Spin” posting from September 4th found here,

I have addressed the plagiarism that occurred there in one of my posts – , if you care to read.

However, since the points made in the guest column were yours and you make a claim that they are truth and factual, they need to be flushed out more clearly as they seem to be slanted to fit a narrative that you proffer in your reelection campaign.

If you are going to invoke Winston Churchill and “incontrovertible truth” then all false claims need to be ironed out.

First, I do want to say that it is ironic that you place Winston Churchill and the current GOP-led General Assembly in the same posting. They should never collide in the same conversation except as an exercise in contrast. The Voter ID law, HB2, and gerrymandered districts do not equate to the strength and integrity of a man who stared down Hitler.

Secondly, it is odd that Churchill’s home country actually has issued a travel advisory to North Carolina (last spring) in its objection to the discriminatory HB2 law.

But I digress.

  1. The guest columnist (actually you) stated “in 2011, North Carolina overspent by $3 billion. Taxes on income, corporate income and gasoline were the highest in the Southeast. North Carolina could not borrow money. North Carolina owed the federal government billions of dollars primarily because of the unemployment benefits situation. In other words — North Carolina’s credit card was over the limit.”

Bev Perdue was governor then, but it might need to be pointed out that the power in state legislature was in the hands of the GOP, many of whom are still in office. Gov. Perdue had vetoed budgets before, but is it safe to say that the “overspending” was the Democrat’s fault? We were still coming out of the Great Recession. Obama was still in his first term and would barely lose NC in 2012 during his reelection.

And I will agree that the “tightening of the belt” has produced “results that have been effective.” Except, I would not claim that they are all that positive because there is much more to explain in relation to said effects.

So I would like to offer other considerations to a few points.

  1. The guest columnist (actually you) stated, “North Carolina has reduced personal and corporate income taxes, which now are among the lowest in the Southeast;”

That’s true, except there is a reason for that. I wrote Sen. Jim Davis last summer about the very same thing, so I will repeat that because the lowering of taxes does not explain fully what happened to create the “surplus” in our state.

That “stronger, healthier economy” you refer to was built on many things that were actually deleterious to working North Carolinians. Think of the tax deductions and exemptions that were eliminated for many middle-class families. While the state could now claim to have “lowered” taxes, many families were actually giving more money to the state because they could not claim item deductions as they could in the past. Also, with the move to a consumer-driven economy newer taxes on goods and services (auto repairs, elimination of tax-free school supply weekends, etc.) has “burdened” the citizens.

And the last two years are the first in my teaching career that I had to pay the state taxes in April instead of receiving a refund.

  1. The guest columnist (actually you) stated, “North Carolina has reduced and put a limit on the gasoline tax.”

And yet South Carolina’s is still much lower and it spends more on teacher salaries. Just ask York County how many of its teachers actually live in North Carolina.

  1. The guest columnist (actually you) stated, “After getting its financial house in order, North Carolina has added more than $1 billion to education funding.”

First, the problem with the house is that one in four children in NC still live under or near the poverty level. Secondly, that increase in educational funding still does not bring us to pre-recession per-pupil expenditures. Again, allow me to repeat what I offered to Sen. Davis.

“Of course there is more money spent on education now than in the past. North Carolina is one of the fastest growing states in the country. More people mean more students to educate. But it is interesting that the per-pupil expenditure under this present leadership is lower than it was before the Great Recession.

Here’s an analogy. Say in 2008, a school system in your district had 1000 students in its school system and spent 10 million dollars in its budget to educate them. That’s approximately 10,000 per pupil expenditure. Now in 2016, that same district has 1500 students and the school system is spending 11.5 million to educate them. According to your claims, that district is spending more total dollars now than in 2008 on education, but the per-pupil expenditure has gone down significantly by about 2300 dollars per student or 23 percent.

Your argument doesn’t hold much credibility when you claim to be spending more overall, yet the average per-pupil expenditure has gone down precipitously.”

  1. The guest columnist (actually you) stated, “Gov. McCrory met with teachers and superintendents from across the state. They told him their no. 1 priority was to raise the pay of teachers — starting with the newest teachers.”

I don’t remember that conversation. But the fact that you state that salary increases started with the newest teachers actually helps me to explain how another point you make is not the entire “incontrovertible” truth.

  1. The guest columnist (actually you) stated that the governor and General Assembly “Implemented the largest pay increase for teachers in the entire nation.”

Actually it should say the largest AVERAGE pay increase. This is an old argument that has clearly been debunked, but I will repeat what I offered to Phil Kirk, Chairman Emeritus of the State Board. I said,

“Saying that North Carolina raised teacher salaries more than any other state in the nation in 2014 is misleading. One can raise the salary of first year teachers by a few thousand dollars and it would give them an average raise of maybe 10-15%. One would then only have to give veteran teachers a very small raise funded by longevity pay (which all veteran teachers no longer get) and the OVERALL average raise still looks good, and not much money has to be invested.

I invite you to read James Hogan’s recent posting about teacher pay on his blog entitled “No, NC Republicans Have Not Fixed Teacher Pay” ( ). It’s devastatingly accurate and it doesn’t even talk about the removal of longevity pay.”

Actual and average are two very different things. And James Hogan is a wickedly logical individual and a damn fine original writer.

  1. The guest columnist (actually you) stated that the governor and the General Assembly “Firmed up the benefit package for teachers so that it is now worth approximately $16,000 a year for every teacher in the state.”

There’s a fuzzy word there – “approximately.” Not every teacher takes the benefits packages that are offered by the state. Because of teacher salaries not being enough for raising families in many cases, teachers like myself live in a two/three income family. The “benefits” for health coverage may be taken from a spouse’s employer, but to say that the benefits for teachers are better now than in the past because you put a dollar amount on it is rather weak.

  1. The guest columnist (actually you) stated that the governor and the General Assembly “Created additional income opportunities for our teachers so they do not have to leave the classroom to enhance their income or further their careers.”

Actually, this is another term for merit pay. Allow me to refer to a letter I wrote to Rep. Skip Stam, who is very much in favor for merit pay

“The bottom line is that merit pay destroys collaboration and promotes competition. That is antithetical to the premise of public education. Not only does it force teachers to work against each other, it fosters an atmosphere of exclusivity and disrespect. What could be more detrimental to our students?

Effective public schools are collaborative communities, not buildings full of contractors who are determined to outperform others for the sake of money. And when teachers are forced to focus on the results of test scores, teaching ceases from being a dynamic relationship between student and teacher, but becomes a transaction driven by a carrot on an extended stick.

Furthermore, the GOP-led NCGA still does not seem to acknowledge that student growth is different than student test scores. When some of our colleagues deal with students who experience more poverty, health issues, and other factors, then how can you say that those teachers do not “grow” those students when an arbitrary test score is all that is used to measure students?

Besides, if you think merit pay is effective, then I would question your willingness to fund that merit pay. Anyone who has taught in North Carolina for an extended period of time remembers that we had the ABC’s in effect for years which gave teachers/schools bonuses based on scores. One problem with that model (and you stated it in the interview) was that it pitted teachers against each other. Another problem that you did not mention is that Raleigh decided not to fund it any longer.”

How about reinstitute graduate degree pay bumps? That helped a lot of teachers become better at what they do. And considering the removal of caps for class size in most grades, changes to block scheduling, and the fact that teachers do more now because of administrative duties and fewer assistants, do teachers not already qualify for that “merit pay?”

  1. The guest columnist (actually you) stated, “The online, personal finance blog, “WalletHub,” has moved North Carolina into the top 20 in the nation for education and security.”

Is this the same WalletHub that ranked North Carolina 44th in “Best & Worst States For Teachers”? Yes, it is ( The reference in the guest column was that NC was in the top 20 in the nation for education and security.

What that means is that teachers in NC are incredible despite what the state has done to them in the last four years. But NC may be in for a rude awakening if it can’t keep those very teachers.

The rest of the guest columnist’s argument talks of what might happen if McCrory and company are allowed to continue their work if reelected. All of that remains to be seen.

Truth is a funny word. If it is really incontrovertible, then I guess we will see in the near future.

I look forward to reading more of your “truths” in the future.

About That Guest Column Today in the Winston-Salem Journal – Concerning “Intellectual Dishonesty”

Nothing is ours but our language, our phrasing. If a man takes that from me (knowingly, purposely) he is a thief. If he takes it unconsciously–snaking it out of some old secluded corner of his memory, and mistaking it for a new birth instead of a mummy — he is no thief, and no man has a case against him.

Mark Twain,  Letter to Robert Burdette, circa April 19, 1890

I read with great interest the guest column in the October 22nd Winston-Salem Journal entitled “What McCrory has done for North Carolina.” You may read it here –

(NOTE: The article has been taken down from the WSJ site. A Copy can be found here – maurice-atwood_-what-mccrory-has-done-for-north-carolina-winston-salem-journal_-columnists).

And while it begins with a famous quote from Winston Churchill concerning “incontrovertible truth,” there were points argued by the guest columnist that could be flushed out more cleanly and would very much validate Mark Twain’s quote above. That will be left for another time.

Here is Winston Churchill’s full quote that the guest columnist starts his op-ed with and supposedly frames his argument around – truth.

“The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.”
But the purpose of this particular response is not to combat the article’s arguments in the guest column. It is to examine the meaning of truth and how it is supposedly delivered. If you read the article, I invite you to focus on the last paragraph because how the guest columnist ended the column really struck a nerve with me. It starts with “Let’s choose facts.”

Ironically, Winston Churchill was a journalist at one time. He even won the Nobel Prize for Literature later in his life. He was very keen on his choice and use of words.

It’s interesting how the guest columnist ends this concluding paragraph with “Suggesting anything other than these truths is being intellectually dishonest.” That’s a strong suggestion and supposes that anyone who would counteract the supposed truths in his op-ed would be “intellectually dishonest.” If that is the case, then I am an intellectually dishonest person because I can refute each of these points that are considered truth by the guest columnist.

Actually, I believe that makes me intellectually honest in my opinion. The person who is being “intellectually dishonest” is not me or anyone else who has challenged the governor or the GOP’s educational agenda, but the guest columnist himself.

Why? Because the guest column is largely plagiarized from another source. Actually more than half is lifted word for word from Rep. Craig Horn’s “Stop the Spin” posting from September 4th on his website,

Here is a screen shot.

Craig Horn.png

And below is the text of the posting. You may compare it to the guest column in question and find a high rate of plagiarism, a sin that Winston Churchill would have abhorred and that is probably one of the greatest offenses in “intellectual dishonesty.”
Election season, or the Silly Season as it is known by many, is again upon us. It may be useless to bring some common sense into the picture, but let’s try.

In 2011, this state was nearly $3 billion overspent. Personal Income Taxes, Corporate Income Taxes and gasoline taxes were the highest in the Southeast and among the highest in the nation. North Carolina could not borrow money, our credit card was over the limit and we owed the Feds billions of dollars for money borrowed to sustain an under-performing system.

Over the last four years, Governor McCrory and the General Assembly have paid off those debts to the Feds, reduced personal and corporate income taxes to be among the lowest in the region, reduced and capped the gas tax AND added over a billion dollars to education funding in this state.
Before committing millions of dollars to teacher raises, Governor McCrory met with teachers and superintendents across this state who were clear that we must raise teacher salaries dramatically. And, they told us all that we must start with our newest teachers first or we will never be able to rebuild our base.

Over the last two years, North Carolina has implemented the largest teacher pay increase in the nation. We have also firmed up teachers’ benefit package which is now worth about $16,000 per year for every teacher in this state. Furthermore, contrary to what some teacher’s groups purport, NO benefits have been removed for new teachers, longevity pay was NOT taken away from veteran teachers, textbook funding has tripled during this administration and $97 million has been leveraged in federal and state funding to connect all schools to a robust Wi-Fi system by 2018.

In addition, graduation rates are at an all-time high and drop-out rates are at an all-time low. “Education Next” magazine now ranks North Carolina among the top K-12 schools in the nation for rigor and “Wallethub,” the online personal finance blog, has moved North Carolina into the top twenty in the nation for education quality and security.

There is more. We have stabilized the tuition costs for a 4- or 5-year degree by fixing tuition at all public universities so that students and parents can reliably plan ahead for these costs. And capping fee increases at no more than 3% a year. Our 58 Community Colleges are moving to an outcome-based education model and our Independent Colleges and Universities are helping to fill the void for the many needs-based scholarship students.

So what about the naysayers that just cannot stand for North Carolina to prosper and are desperate for bad news? Those folks keep saying, “It’s Not Enough!” Well, how much is enough? Consider that a teacher entering his 10th year of teaching has realized a 21% salary increase since Governor McCrory entered office; a teacher in his or her 19th year of teaching has seen a 15.5% increase.

Actually, we agree that we need to “Keep Pounding” and ensure that every teacher is prepared, supported and rewarded for their efforts and for improved student outcomes. And we need to complete the transition to the digital education environment. That prepares every student in our state for the demands of the twenty-first century job market. But, to ignore what has been accomplished thus far is dishonest and prevents real conversations about necessary school reform from taking place.

As our state continues to grow, we will need to attract more teachers to the classroom as well as retain and support our experienced teachers and principals. Their guidance and experience is critical to our future success. They too deserve more pay and they need to extend their hand of welcome and support to our newest educators.

Winston Churchill once said, “The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.” These words of Churchill stand in stark contrast to the words that are preached on the other side of the political divide regarding education in North Carolina. If people simply looked a bit deeper at what the naysayers espouse, it would be ver obvious that much has been accomplished in a short amount of time.

We can choose ignorance and thus succumb to believing lies, but we know where that leads us. The truth is incontrovertible. When we can work together in a spirit of respect and understanding, we can climb to amazing heights and make life better for everyone.
The choice, as well as the responsibility, lies within each one of us.

D. Craig Horn
Representative, District 68
North Carolina General Assembly

Merriam-Webster’s online simple definition of plagiarism is “the act of using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit to that person : the act of plagiarizing something.

Sounds like “intellectual dishonesty” to me.

The Winston-Salem Journal probably has a circulation of print and electronic media nearing maybe 200,000 readers. To present another person’s work (and half-truths in my opinion) is the very definition of intellectual dishonesty. To do it openly and deliberately for that many readers is egregious.

In truth, Rep. Horn’s “Stop the Spin” posting is not intellectually sound. It’s simply just a piece of political propaganda.

And I will post an intellectually honest answer to it soon after this posting.

Capt. Ahab Trump and His White Whale

“Call me Ishmael.”

We have read about Donald Trump before, figuratively speaking. Over 160 years ago.


But as the last whelmings intermixingly poured themselves over the sunken head of the Indian at the mainmast, leaving a few inches of the erect spar yet visible, together with long streaming yards of the flag, which calmly undulated, with ironical coincidings, over the destroying billows they almost touched;- at that instant, a red arm and a hammer hovered backwardly uplifted in the open air, in the act of nailing the flag faster and yet faster to the subsiding spar. A sky-hawk that tauntingly had followed the main-truck downwards from its natural home among the stars, pecking at the flag, and incommoding “Tashtego there; this bird now chanced to intercept its broad fluttering wing between the hammer and the wood; and simultaneously feeling that etherial thrill, the submerged savage beneath, in his death-gasp, kept his hammer frozen there; and so the bird of heaven, with archangelic shrieks, and his imperial beak thrust upwards, and his whole captive form folded in the flag of Ahab, went down with his ship, which, like Satan, would not sink to hell till she had dragged a living part of heaven along with her, and helmeted herself with it.

Now small fowls flew screaming over the yet yawning gulf; a sullen white surf beat against its steep sides; then all collapsed, and the great shroud of the sea rolled on as it rolled five thousand years ago.”

 – Moby Dick, Chapter 135 – The Chase – Third Day

When Herman Melville penned the story of Captain Ahab and his obsessive, monomaniacal pursuit of the White Whale, he was speaking of people like Donald Trump, a man obsessed with a vision of securing the very prey that has eluded him – a reason for a bigger ego.

The parallels between Trump and Ahab are striking. Both are on a selfish quest – to subdue something bigger than either of them. Ahab wants “revenge” on an animal that has bested him in the past. Trump wishes to gain a position of power that he has tried for in the past.

Both men wear scars from previous encounters with their “white whales.” Ahab literally has a leg missing having given the whale a little something for his gullet. Trump bears scars of a wounded ego.

Both command “campaigns” that have crews which are struggling to fathom the captain’s neglect for others involved. Ahab’s crew includes those who are intensely loyal, some who are ambivalent, and some who only want the job. Same with Trump. In fact, one could call his campaign headquarters “The Pequod,” sailing aimlessly through foreign waters.

Possibly the strongest correlation is the prize that both seek. Ahab’s fanatical pursuit of Moby Dick is a quest for his own validation. All else in his life and the lives of his crew are secondary to him. He has forced the whale to become a part of him and the whale took part of Ahab (and ate it).

But what is Trump’s “Moby Dick”? It’s an arrogant, egotistical image of himself that he sees in the reflection of a megalomaniacal mirror that can only be satisfied with obtaining the top job in the free world. Except in Trump’s case, his “white whale” grows in size daily and thus becomes more powerful and harder to subdue.

That’s because he feeds it constantly with words and actions and gestures and exaggerations. Just like Ahab, who broods in thought at finding the whale and then passionately calls his crew to follow at all costs, Trump incites supporters at rallies promising them what he can never give them.

It’s selfish and self-serving.

The last few chapters of Moby Dick involve “The Chase” for the whale, who in turn seems to really be chasing Ahab. Three days this chase occurs until….

And in the last days of Trump’s chase for the White House (episodically segmented by three debates) we see the excitable, yet incendiary, rhetoric of Ahab, excuse me, Trump ramped to a higher octave.

  • “Grab them by the p***sy.”
  • “Bad Hombres.”
  • “Nasty Woman.”
  • “You’re the puppet.”
  • “Miss Piggie.”
  • Or any time he talks about a woman’s appearance.

Trump’s total disregard for the truth in matters has his clouded candidacy, and his willingness to destroy the “Pequod” that is the Republican Party is dictatorial and crazed. Innocent people will go down with him as the last pass of the whale on November 8th sinks the ship of his candidacy.

And we will all wait for the real story from some Ishmael who was along for the entire voyage.

But unlike the book Moby Dick, that story will not come as a surprise.

It will be retelling of a story many of us have been reading all along.

What Would Jesus Wear? Apparently White After Labor Day


Satan is at it again according to Kami Meuller.

He’s voting.

And tempting people in long early voting lines to vote for candidates who may overturn years of regression in the form of Voter ID laws, gerrymandered districts, and LGBT discrimination.

And Satan is wearing a pantsuit.

Probably white. In fact, all people who wear white are satanic, right Kami?

Check out the story on NC Policy Watch’s blog – NC GOP worried about long lines, pantsuits, and Satan. It talks of Kami Meuller, she of the “political peacocking” fame.

The posting itself starts with,”

The folks at the N.C. Republican Party sent out a few interesting tweets this week, one of them from Communications Director Kami Mueller who was apparently worried about the long lines at some early voting sites on Thursday, the first day of early voting. She gave people a number to call for voting assistance.

Thank goodness the NCGOP is helping us with the very process that they tried to discourage.

In fact, I am very grateful that they believe that people who are going to vote are probably going to make their decision while in line because they are undecided anyways. No wonder they don’t want Satan influencing early voting participants.

Actually, I am being facetious. And the word “facetious” uses all of the vowels in order. Wait, make it an adverb and you get “facetiously.” Wow, now you really have all of the vowels! Try that at your next party or Jeopardy game.

NC Policy Watch also included a Tweet from Ms. Meuller that ranks about as logical and sound as the ones she sent out after the NCAA pulled its championships games from NC in response to HB2.


Forget the talk of Clinton’s wanting to kill babies and being bought. It’s the fashion critique that makes me want to judge Clinton.

But as I was pondering about voting early, I thought “What Would Jesus Wear?” And I got this.

He’s wearing white!

And after Labor Day!

Maybe God is trying to get his vote in early as well.

The Scarlet Letter(s) of Donald Trump

With a convulsive motion, he tore away the ministerial band from before his breast. It was revealed! But it were irreverent to describe that revelation. For an instant, the gaze of the horror-stricken multitude was concentrated on the ghastly miracle; while the minister stood, with a flush of triumph in his face, as one who, in the crisis of acutest pain, had won a victory. Then, down he sank upon the scaffold! Hester partly raised him, and supported his head against her bosom. Old Roger Chillingworth knelt down beside him, with a blank, dull countenance, out of which the life seemed to have departed.The Scarlet Letter, Chapter 23

This passage occurs in the last scaffold scene of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic novel, The Scarlet Letter. Arthur Dimmesdale finally confesses his sin in broad daylight identifying himself as the father of the “illegitimate” Pearl, having hidden a secret intimate relationship with a married woman named Hester Prynne. He literally ascends the scaffold, bears his chest, and reveals his own scarlet “A”, a homemade, etched-in  tattoo to match the one worn publicly by Hester from the beginning of the book on her breast.


The book centers on the power of secret sin – how our outsides match our insides. By the time Dimmesdale confesses, so much life has been sucked out of him that he literally dies moments later.

Catharsis at its best.

And he gains some measure of salvation and forgiveness from God. And if we think about it, we all wear some sort of scarlet letter on our chests.

In this gothically charged dark romance of an election season, it might be interesting to consider another man who has the opportunity to publicly reveal his transgressions before they end his political life – Donald Trump.

Except in the case of one Donald Trump, he may need to carve the entire alphabet into his large chest to begin to cover the range of his wrongdoings.


On the scaffold known as the national stage, Trump’s story contains as much if not more dramatic irony that Hawthorne’s novel. Readers know of Dimmesdale’s secret as the American public seems to know about Trump’s transgressions.

  • A = Arrogance. The pride, hubris, and arrogance has simply been the hallmark of this campaign.
  • B = “Bigly” and Birther. What the hell kind of word is “bigly”? But that pales in comparison with the birther conspiracy theory that Trump birthed and nurtured for years.
  • C – Combover. Please. Just accept the hairline.
  • D – Denegration of others. Trump blames everybody else except himself.
  • E – Excess. It is not the wealth, but the display of the wealth.
  • F – Faulty Really?
  • G – Grab them by the P***y. No explanation needed.
  • H – Hats and “Hombres.” First, those are really ugly hats. Secondly, using derogatory words to describe people he claims to cater to is probably not the best choice of diction.
  • I – Iowa.  The people there are stupid? Really? According to Nate Silver, it may go to Clinton.
  • J – John McCain. Dude, he is a war hero. Not many men have done as much for their country.
  • K – KellyAnne Conway. Her mouth is trying to cash checks that Trump’s mouth has been writing and she knows that they are bad checks.
  • L – Lies. That’s the truth.
  • M – Megyn Kelly. You brought that on yourself, Mr. Trump.
  • N – Nasty Woman. Fits in with “No one has greater respect for women than I do.”
  • – Opulence. See “E.”
  • P – Piggie. Really? Has Trump looked in a mirror?
  • Q – Querrulous . A fancy word that means “thin-skinned.”
  • R – Rigged. Waiting for the proof of this one.
  • S – Sniffing. He starts doing that when you get all huffy and puffy.
  • T – Tan. Not real.
  • U – University, Trump University. That went well.
  • V – Violence. Rallies – plain and simple. Inciting people to act with guns.
  • W – Women. Video tape and accusations. Coincidence?
  • X – Xenophobia. No explanation needed.
  • Y – Yuge. Trump has used this word so much, it may actually go in the dictionary.
  • Z – Zero taxes. Illegal immigrants may actually be paying more federal taxes than you.

Luckily for Dimmesdale, he confesses. Will Trump do the same?

Yes, I understand that  Trump is not the only one who walks around with a “secret” sin. This post is a total judgement call on him by me. And I will be glad to wear a scarlet “J” upon my breast is needed.

In fact, I will wear it while I go vote on November 8th.


An Open Letter to Gov. McCrory Complete With a Song Dedication – Apologies to Gerry Rafferty

Dear Governor McCrory,

Knowing that you just celebrated your 60th birthday, I thought I would send a song dedication to you.

Specifically a rewritten version of Gerry Rafferty’s “Stuck in the Middle With You” recorded with the group Stealers Wheel.


It’s a classic from the 70’s and it seems to really sum up the situation that I perceive you are in with the upcoming election and the issue of HB2 casting a long shadow on your campaign.

That, and it’s a catchy tune.

Well, I don’t know why I’m promoting this law.
It’s caused more trouble than I foresaw.
I’m so scared and I publicly whine.
Cause I didn’t veto; don’t have any spine.
I claim “Charlotte’s to the left” of me,
Berger’s to the right, and here I am
Defending HB2.

Rick Rothacker’s October 18th news story in the Charlotte Observer (“In email, McCrory’s general counsel said governor fought against HB2”), you seem to insist that you may have secretly opposed HB2 during its radical adoption in last spring’s secret, special session.

Rothacker reported,

“Three days after Gov. Pat McCrory signed House Bill 2, his general counsel told a former legal colleague that the governor battled the legislature over the bill that limited protections for LGBT individuals, according to emails obtained by the Observer.

“Bob, here are the facts: We fought against this bill,” Bob Stephens said in a March 26 email to Bob Turner, a lawyer in Charlotte. “You have no idea how hard the Governor worked to limit it. He told the legislature that it went too far. We lobbied against it and even drafted our own version of the bill but it was not accepted.”

Stephens’ comments contrast with McCrory’s defense of the measure in recent months, even in the face of major sports boycotts of the state.”

That is rather eye-opening considering the effort that you have made to defend the controversial “bathroom bill” that has seen millions of dollars taken away from North Carolina’s economy through the loss of business expansion, cancellations of sports and entertainment events, and lost tourism in protest the discriminatory law.

Bob Stephens, your general counsel, later “defended” your complicit nature by stating,

“And don’t tell me the Governor should have vetoed the bill. His veto would have been overridden in a matter of days and we’d be right where we are now. If you have other ideas about what the Governor should have done, let me know.”

Actually, you should have vetoed.

Governor, in a re-election campaign that is literally becoming more of an uphill climb, you could have done more positive for your image than any commercial, political ad, website, testimonial, or explanation defending HB2 could have ever done. You could have vetoed it and shown some spine in confronting your own party.

Yes, I know that I’m vouching for HB2,
But I’m really wondering should I continue.
It’s so hard to keep this smile on my face.
Losing control, yeah, I’m all over the place.
NCAA’s to the left of me.
Tim Moore’s to the right, but here I am
Stuck with HB2.

Instead, you became a puppet for someone else’s discriminatory agenda and a mouthpiece of a fallacious and illogical argument.

If you had vetoed the bill as Mr. Stephens’s email hints at, you might have been able to show that you are not a rubber stamp for the policies of the GOP General Assembly.

You may have been able to distinguish yourself as your own person who keeps the best interests of all North Carolinians in mind, not just the ones who lead the GOP on West Jones Street.

And yes, your veto would have been overridden, but you would have made a statement and a stand that would have firmed up a rather shaky foundation of an administration.

But you willingly allowed yourself and your tenure as governor to be forever haunted with the albatross that is HB2 to go along with the Voter ID law and all of the other actions that have welcomed public education in NC.

Bob Stephens did say one other thing that seems very eye-opening in this storm of an election season.

He said,

“The Governor is always the lightning rod for these things. Not fair.”

Your blaming others for a law that cannot even be enforced and is hurting our state is not fair.

Being the lightning rod comes with the office; however, in this case you covered yourself with aluminum foil, held up a golfing putter, and climbed an even higher peak in the middle of a political and social tempest.

But no worries, if you don’t like the weather in North Carolina, just wait a while. It will change.

Hopefully on November 8th.

Trying to make some sense of it all.
But I can see that it makes no sense at all.
Can I now issue that veto?
Cause this issue won’t let me go.
Springsteen’s to the left of me,
My politics to the right, but here I am
Drowning because of HB2.

Why The Screwtape Letters Matter Now – OR, What C.S. Lewis Said About The Current Election

There is a Facebook posting circulating that places the current political climate (notably Donald Trump) in the context of C.S. Lewis’s iconic book The Screwtape Letters.

Most people may know C.S. Lewis as the writer of The Chronicles of Narnia, seven books of Christian allegory that chronicle the battle of good versus evil and filled many a young mind with adventure.

In fact, the book is dedicated to another writer of spiritual allegory – J.R.R. Tolkien.

The book itself is a collection of fictional epistles penned by a “senior” devil named Screwtape to his nephew, Wormwood, advising him on the best tactics to use on humans to bring their everlasting souls to hell.


And since Trump called Hillary Trump the devil in the second debate, it only seems fair to explore how others depict the ways and means of the demonic entities that reside in hell.

Here is the Facebook posting mentioned beforehand:


And it is fabulous. On point. Totally in sync with the original message.

But it is not an exact quote. It emulates Lewis’s style – his word choice, imagery, details, language, syntax, etc. But the closing “Keep up the good work” is not used in the actual book. Screwtape always ends his letters with “Your affectionate uncle.”

But that’s beside the point because the point is already made.

However, there are many other actual quotes from the book itself that are applicable to the outrageous campaign that one particular candidate is running.

This one from Letter I immediately caught my eye because it frames humankind in such a way that Wormwood can begin his apprenticeship in soul-stealing with a good blueprint of human nature.

“[M]an has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to having a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily “true” or “false,” but as “academic” or “practical,” “outworn” or “contemporary,” “conventional” or “ruthless.” Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. Don’t waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong or stark or courageous—that it is the philosophy of the future. That’s the sort of thing he cares about.” 

If one was to rhetorical analyze this passage solely for the diction then surely certain words would be highlighted: “incompatible philosophies”, “doesn’t think”, ”outworn”, “ruthless”, “jargon”, and “materialism” to name a few.

Certainly a man who says one thing and then denies it later depending on the audience certainly qualifies as someone who has “incompatible philosophies.” And certainly the words “materialism” and Donald Trump collide in any sentence.

But it is the two-dimensional aspect that this particular paragraph casts spiritually vulnerable humankind within. The use of the multiple “or’s” show that those susceptible to being lured by the dark side see the world in black and white when God created such a palette for us to enjoy.

Donald Trump, in my opinion, is the most two-dimensional presidential candidate in history. He resides in extremes – his narcissistic self-aggrandizement to his paranoid conspiracy theories. His lavish wealth worn on his sleeve to his hidden hairline and tax returns. His late night tweets to his name calling in debates.

And when he swings from one side to the other he nevers stops in the middle to consider that the extremes aren’t where most people exist.

The word “jargon” from the Lewis excerpt is most appropriate. Trump has used his catchphrases and “terms” to create a comfort zone that clouds reality.

  • “Rigged”
  • “Build a Wall”
  • “Lock her up”
  • “Crooked”
  • “Huge”
  • “We don’t win anymore”
  • “Miss Piggie”
  • “Stupid”
  • “Loser”

Those words don’t sound inclusive. They sound exclusive. They don’t unite. They divide.

But the last part of the excerpt really defines Trump for me.

“Don’t waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong or stark or courageous—that it is the philosophy of the future. That’s the sort of thing he cares about.”

His presumed wealth despite the lack of released tax returns and his opulence seem to give Trump his plastic confidence, the same confidence that is shaken when he is confronted with the truth, especially in the form of a smart lady.

C.S. Lewis’s book was originally published through the magazine The Guardian in 1942. Nazism. Hitler. WWII.

The Brits at that time knew a thing or two about resiliency, fighting for those who did not live on their soil, and staring at a foe refusing to give in.

And C.S. Lewis’s spiritually apologetic satire is so relevant today, especially with a reinvigorated animosity brewing between the U.S and Russia and a division in our own country based on “either/or” dictates.

America is a field day for Screwtape and all of his nephews (and nieces).

Makes you wonder who you want controlling the red button.

Besides, Aslan doesn’t have a combover.


Posted in EdNC – Why I Write College Recs

ThAnks to EdNC. 

Why I write college recommendation letters

The Fragilepidermalitis of Donald Trump – A Diagnosis of Tweets

Fragliepidermalitis – the condition of having metaphorical “thin skin” coupled with a propensity to reacting violently when constructively criticized, deservingly lampooned, or adequately parodied; i.e. – can’t take a joke.

If you have not seen the latest parody of Donald Trump by Alec Baldwin on Saturday Night Live, it was rather hilarious. At least to me. If you have not seen it here is a link:

No too long afterwards, Trump tweeted the following:


That’s having thin skin. Not very presidential considering that Trump himself hosted the show last year with almost the same cast and writers. And if one wants to be president, then you have to take the satire along with it as well.

But there are other things that Trump suffers from and when coupled with the aforementioned malady, the effects are very disturbing.

Egoaffrontation – also called an “easily bruised ego,” this condition is characterized by taking everything said about you so personally that you must lash out against violaters through social media.

Hillary? Of course! Paul Ryan? Check. Anyone who has moderated a debate Trump was in? Check. Khan family? Check. Miss Universe? Check.


Symptoms of egoaffrontation include ripping into others through tweets in a derogatory nature. Extreme cases are usually identified by the late night / early morning postings of such outbursts.

Sansvertebrae – the condition of showing no backbone; sometimes referred to as “spineless.”

This was pretty much proven with this:

Women, disabled people, minorities, immigrants, Muslims, etc. The list goes on.

Medianoia –  the fear that the media is completely against you even though you go out of the way to disparage them.

Medianoia is closely associated with another pseudo-clinical term called,

Riggedomortis – a condition in which the sufferer claims that everything is working against him except his own lack of ability; also associated with people who make excuses to soften the blow that they were never really lost even though they had thier asses handed to them.

I submit Exhibit A.


That’s literally proof of two conditions in one tweet.

The latest assertion by Trump that Clinton should take a drug test when he himself has been acting rather “influenced” on the stage, otherwise known as “opiohobia” is for another post. However, it should be mentioned that someone already has beat him to that.



If You Need Assurance in the Younger Generation, Then I Have Some


For the past six years, West Forsyth High School has hosted the Piedmont Down Syndrome Support Network’s Buddy Walk, an event that raises funds and awareness for people with Trisomy 21 and their families.

And in the six years that West has hosted the event over $300,000 has been raised. Money is used to help with programs and other expenses that help the PDSSN to aid families with children with special needs.

And there will be times when I will post on what the PDSSN has one for our family, but there is an element to this event that speaks so loudly – the student volunteers.

In the past six years, West Forsyth students have volunteered their time and resources to help make this event possible.

On average, over 150 students will come out to help with food, setup, cleanup, games, raffle tickets, registration, and other duties. And never has a student reported a negative experience helping out with the Buddy Walk. In fact students from other schools high schools have come to help.

And there is the inclusive nature that this creates. When typical young people sometimes meet those who are differently abled, it can be a tad bit awkward. Not these students. They jump right in and engage. And kids like mine gravitate to that.

In a world where adults create divisions simply based on race, religion, presidential preference, income, and creed, it is redeeming to know that many in our younger generation don’t subscribe to exclusionary habits. The students that I witnessed at the Buddy Walk this year were about community, tolerance, acceptance, and relating to others.

In fact, that has been the case every year.

If anyone needs any assurance that our students care about what happens in the world that we leave to them, I invite you to go attend a service project that a high school service club engages in.

You will see something special that has no monetary amount associate with it.